Nur al-Cubicle

A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press. Daily timeline of events in Iraq as collected from stories and dispatches in the French and Italian media: Le Monde (Paris), Il Corriere della Sera (Milan), La Repubblica (Rome), L'Orient-Le Jour (Beirut) and occasionally from El Mundo (Madrid).

Friday, December 31, 2004

December 31 Events in Iraq

20:15 Baghdad. Allawi says bordering countries shelter rebels. They are sheltering actors involved in attacks on the Iraqi people. Our patience is about to run out. No one may be permitted to harm our country. We will now decide how to respond to this agression. Allawi did not explicitly cite any country by name.

17:28 Mossul. Four dead. An Iraqi guerrilla died during a clash with police in Mossul. US forces capture 15 rebels. In Baiji, two civilians were killed in the explosion of a carbomb. In the Province of Babylon, the bodies of two civilians were found.

16:35 Basrah. Bomb damages police car. A roadside bomb exploded damaging a police and wounding the driver. Four bystanders were injured.

15:28 Seoul. Korean Parliament extends mission. 3,600 South Korean troops deployed to Iraq will remain in the country another 13 months. The contingent operates in Erbil, Kurdistan.

14:18 Duluiyah. US troops raid 13 homes. US troops arrested 49 suspected rebels near Duluiyah, north of Baghdad and confiscated explosive material.

11:47 Baghdad. Election security arrangements. The Iraqi caretaker government to step up operations against rebels and to deploy 100,000 troops to polling stations.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

December 30 Events in Iraq

Samarra. Three National Guards killed in two separate incidents.

Baghdad. Five police were killed in separate attacks in Baghdad and Baquba.

Baquba. The son of a police official was kidnapped.

Baghdad. The Iraqi caretaker government announced the capture of Fadel Hussein Ahmed al-Kurdi and two other al Qaeda suspects. Al-Kurdi is also known as Abu Obeida al-Kurdi Agha Rida and is considered to be a lieutenant of al-Zarqawi. His brother, Omar Bazyai, was arrested by US forces in May 2004.

Paris. Investigation of the private mission led by French legislator Raoul Julia to free reporters held by insurgents reveals the involvement of Ivory Coast.

Paris. Loyalists to Saddam Hussein among kidnappers. In an interview with the Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, French reporter Christian Chesnot says Ba'ath party loyalists are working with Islamic insurgents. Reporter Georges Malbrunot affirms he recognized the personal bodyguard of Abd al-Hmoud, Saddam Hussein's private secretary.

Amman. Regional conference scheduled for 6 January. Jordanian Foreign Minister Hani Mulki says Jordan is organizing a meeting of regional ministers to discuss the Iraq crisis and the 30 January elections. Iran is to participate in the conference.

Baghdad. Iraqi anti-occupation activists threaten harm to participants in next month's elections. We call upon faithful Muslims to refrain from taking part in this impious exercise which consists in the application of the infidel laws of the crusaders with the aim of replacing our great religion by secularism. The communiqué was signed by Ansar al-Sunna, the Islamic Army and the Army of the Mujahedeen. With the help of God, the long arm of the Muhahedeen will find all those who are slated for election and who vote, as well as poll workers.

21:56 Doura. Refinery on fire. Mortar fire was directed at the Doura Refinery outside Baghdad. The refinery was set ablaze.

20:42 Baghdad. Director of Chamber of Commerce kidnapped. Abboud al Tufaili, Director of the Iraqi Chamber of Commerce, was kidnapped by armed men near his office in downtown Baghad.

19:40 Mossul. Elections Commission resigns. Threats against commission members prompt resignations

15:44 Ten reported dead in clashes. Three people killed in Chorgat in a rebel abush. Two killed and three wounded in Baiji by a carbomb. Two rebels were killed by Iraqi police as they tried to force a checkpoint in Syniyah. An Iraqi policeman was killed in Samarra. A woman was killed by a roadside bomb in Balad.

15:43 Baghdad. Kidnapped Lebanese identified. Hassan Haider and Ghazi Haider, both construction contractors, were kidnapped in Baghdad yesterday.

07:04 Mossul. A US soldier wounded in yesterday's carbomb has died.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

December 29 Events in Iraq

Baghdad. US senators visit Iraqi capital. Democratic Senators Joseph Lieberman and Mark Dayton made a one-day visit to Baghdad to meet with Shi'ite political leader and SCIRI chief Abdel Aziz al-Hakim. Mr. al Hakim declined to meet with the senators due to security concerns. They later met with a representative.

Suleimaniya. A mass grave containing 60 corpses was found near Suleimaniya in Kurdistan as workers were clearing a site for the construction of a hospital.

Paris. Legislator investigated. French Ministry of Justice has opened an investigation into French legislator Raoul Julia, who failed in an alleged attempt to free kidnapped French reporters Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, held hostage by Iraqi guerrillas.

20:40 Baghdad. Two Lebanese businessmen kidnapped from a residence in Baghdad.

20:13 Mosul: Battle between marines and insurgents. 25 dead. Twenty-five insurgents are killed when US ground forces supported by warplanes engage rebels. The assault is in retaliation for two suicide carbombings. The first carbomb targeted a US base in Yarmuk, outside Mossul. After the detonation, fifty insurgents opened fire with RPG and automatic weapons in an attempt to take over the building. As a US patrol rushed to the scene, it was hit by a second carbomb and seven grenades. At this point, the US called in air support. Fifteen US soldiers were wounded in the engagement of which six had to be evacuated.

16:43 Iraqi National Guard to be dissolved. The ING will be merged with the Iraqi army on 6 January 2005.

16:01 Samarra. Turkish truck driver killed. A Turkish truck was ambushed and its driver killed near Bidiyah, south of Samarra.

14:53 Kiev. Ukraine to pull out troops by end of 2005. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksander Kuzmiuk says the first brigades will be pulled out sometime in the spring. Ukrainian troops are deployed in Wasit Province and are under Polish command. They are assigned to guard duty on the frontier with Iran and highway security between Baghdad and Basrah. The announcement follows the recent decision of the Ukrainian Parliament to end the deployment of its forces in Iraq.

8:05 Baghdad. Blast kills 30. At least 30 people, mostly police, were killed in the explosion of a house in the Ghazaliya quarter of west Baghdad during a raid by Iraqi security forces. The blast also toppled surrounding structures. The building had been booby-trapped by rebels targeting police.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

December 28 Events in Iraq

Moscow. Russia sends two humanitarian relief planes to Baghdad. Russian news agency Itar-Tass reports that the Russian Ministry of Emergencies has dispatched two planes with medicine, disinfectant and 6 000 blankets to Iraq. Russian also sent two planes last Saturday with medicine, tents and emergency heating and lighting equipment as well as Russian textbooks for Baghdad Univerisity.

Balad. A police captain was killed and two of his men were wounded as their patrol was abushed by rebels.

Chourqat. Two police were killed when rebels raided their post.

Tikrit. An intepreter for the US military and an Iraqi contractor were kidnapped by rebels.

Ishaki. Police station raided by rebels in this town south of Samarra. A police commander and four underlings were killed.

Samarra. Three national guard and three civilians killed in carbombing.

Kirkuk. Three businessmen working for the US military were slain by unknown assailants.

Baïji. An Iraqi civilian was killed by a homemade bomb.

Fallujah. Iraqi caretaker government deploys 800 police to Fallujah. (More police than residents--Nur.)

Baghdad. US deploys 5,000 more troops to the capital.

Karbala. US troops kill Iraqi National Guardsman after they mistook him for a rebel.

23:17 Washington. US lashes out at Syria. The US has accused Syria of offering refuge to Saddam loyalists. US State Department spokesman Adam Ereli says Syria "must do something about it." Richard Armitage will raise the question with Syria when he visits Damascus in the next few days.

22:37 Baghdad. Al-Zarqawi claims credit for attempted assassination of al-Hakim. In a message distributed over the Internet, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has claimed credit for the attempted assassination of SCIRI leader Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, who survived. Fifteen others were killed in the truck bombing of SCIRI headquarters.

19:07 Paris. French reporter Christian Chesnot wants to visit Baldoni family. Christian Chesnot wants to travel to Italy to meet the surviving spouse and family of executed Italian reporter Enzo Baldoni.

18:12 Basrah. British solider found dead. A 33 year-old British soldier was found dead of gunshot wounds near his base in Shaibah, southwest of Basrah. (Likely suicide)

17:00 Samarra. Two Iraqi National Guard killed by roadside bomb.

16:10 Baquba. Death toll in carbombing rises to 8. Eight Iraqi National Guardsmen were killed and 15 injured in today's suicide carbombing.

15:38 Baquba. Suicide carbomb kills six Iraqi National Guard. Six Iraqi National Guardsmen were killed and 18 wounded when they were rammmed by a suicide carbomb as they were coming to the aid of another patrol, struck by a roadside bomb.

14:53 Mahmudiyah. Communist party leader found dead. Saadi Abdel Jabbar al-Bayati, kidnapped along a highway yesterday, was found dead.

13:39 Dubai. Osama bin Laden: "This is World War III". This is World War III, which the Crusaders and Zionists have started against Islam. It's metaphor is the war in Iraq. This is from part three of the Bin Laden tape broadcast by al Jazeera. This message is for you, the people of the Islamic nation. Listen; take heed. This is really quite important. What is going in is a most serious and dangerous matter; it's focal point is Baghdad. The world is witnessing this war and observing the two sides. The nation of Islam is on one side and America and its allies on the other. In this moment the nation of Islam is offered the opportunity of escape from enslavement by the West.

12:40 Tokyo. Decapitation video projected at rock concert. The Japanese rock group Klack projected the decapitation of Japanese hostage Shosei Koda in Iraq on a giant screen as part of its concert in Usayasu, east of Tokyo. The concert was being broadcast by the Tokyo Broadcasting System and was scene in households across the country. The network later apologized to viewers.

11:32 Tokyo. Japan offers 71 million euros for reconstruction. Japanese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Shinichi Kadowaki says Japan is offering 10 billion yen to Iraq for the purchase of ambulances, medical equipment, garbage trucks and police cars. Currently there are 550 Japanese military personnel deployed to the southern province of Muthana.

10:32 Baghdad. Rebels raid police stations killing 18. Rebels raided several police stations north of the capital, killing a total of 18 police. Thirteen were killed in cold blood in Dijla, near Tikrit. Another five police were killed at a police station next to an elections office in Balad and in a nearby village.

10:04 Baghdad. Attempted assassination fails. A carbomb exploded this morning in front of the home of Iraqi National Guard General Mudher al Mula as he left his home for work. One member of his escort was killed and eight others wounded.

09:18 Baquba. Iraqi Interior Ministry official assassinated. An official of Iraq's Interior Ministry was assassinated in a barber shop in Baquba. Three others were wounded.

09:06 Tikrit. Rebels attack police station. A rebel commando team attacked a police station in Tikrit, killing 13 police and wounding another 2.

06:18 Barjisiya. Saboteur killed in pipeline explosion southwest of Basrah. A saboteur who planted a bomb along a pipeline runing from the Shueiba refinery to the South Oil Company's storage tanks was killed when he failed to escape the blast.

Monday, December 27, 2004

December 27 Events in Iraq

Baghdad. Minister for Human Rights admits that 353 foreigners and 10,000 Iraqis are held in US and UK prisons throughout Iraq.

Yussufiya. Fifty persons arrested. US troops have rounded up more that 50 people suspected of links to the rebels.

Ramadi. The bodies of six executed Iraqis accused of collaboration were found in and around the city.

Damascus. Syrian Foreign Minister Farook el-Chareh says expat Iraqis in Syria will be permitted to vote in the 30 January elections.

Fallujah. Approximates 8 000 residents of Fallujah have inspected their property, says a US military spokeman. A few have decided to stay but most were unable to remain due to the damage to their homes and property. [The figure of 8,000 is 6,000 above figures seen elsewhere.--Nur]

Beijing. In an interview with the New China News Agency, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said the January elections may be postponed in certain regions of the country. Mr. Zebari is on a four-day trip to China.

19:20 Baghdad. US soldier killed. A US soldier was killed and another injured by a roadside bomb in Baghdad.

19:04 Cairo. New Bin Laden tape. Tape said to confirm that Abu Musab El Zarqawi is the head of al Qaeda in Iraq. Bin Laden also called for a boycott of the 30 January elections in Iraq.

18:26 Samarra. 12 Iraqis die in separate incidents. Four National Guardsmen were killed in clashes with guerrillas while three more were killed by a bomb blast. Four civilians were killed in Baiji when they were caught in a crossfire between US troops and insurgents. The body of a 12th victim, an interpreter for the US military, was found by police in Chorgat.

11:56 Baghdad. Sunni party to boycott elections. The Iraqi Islamic Party will not participate in the 30 January elections, says party chief Mohsen Abdel Hamid.

10:43 Baghdad. SCIRI headquarters bombed. 13 are dead and 66 wounded in a carbomb targeting the Baghdad offices of Shi'ite leader Abdel Hazim Hakim. Mr. Hakim survived the assassination attempt but the building sustained serious damage. Mr. Hakim blamed Sunni and Ba'ath Party elements for the bombing but said there would be no retaliation. SCIRI is expected to do well in the upcoming elections.

07:49 Baghdad. Powerful blast heard in the south of the city.

07:25 Samarra. US solider killed by roadside bomb and a second is wounded.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Fallujah Debriefing

Iraqis attempting to return to Fallujah over the weekend have expressed both anger and frustration after having discovered their homes in ruins and their means of support destroyed after the US offensive on the rebel stronghold. The city and the al-Andalus district have been destroyed., says Ali Mahmood, 35, after a brief visit to the city. He says he has no intention of returning given the extent of the damage. My home has been completely destroyed. There's nothing to keep me here, says this school teacher, adding that he prefers to live in a tent under the stars outside Fallujah where his family has been sheltering for two months.

According to conservative estimates, hundreds of buildings have been been partially or totally destroyed by US forces during the assault, which began on 8 November, using warplanes, tanks and artillery. The insurgents also destroyed many homes and booby-trapped others. The assault, launched to rid the city of insurgents who had made Fallujah one of their principal strongholds, was declared a success more than a month ago although clashes continue in certain districts. US warplanes have again bombarded a neighborhood in the west of the city.

An Iraqi Health Ministry official says he is concerned about the probable resentment felt by Fallujah's residents once they see the devastation inflicted on their homes. There was nothing reassuring about atmosphere reigning there this weekend. Many of the fleeing residents had nothing to do with the rebels, who had turned their city into an insurgent bastion. But the offensive has transformed many of them into angry militants. Does Allah want us to return to a city where not even animals can live?, questions Yassir Sator, in front of his ruined home. Even animals, who have no human emotions or reason, can't live here, he added in tears. What do they want of Fallujah. This is the crime of the century. They want to destroy Islam and all Moslems. Our anger and our defiance is growing.

According to humanitarian organizations, 200 000 fled the city before the assault and have spent the last seven weeks in towns and villages in the area or in refugee camps nearby. Fallujah had a population of 250 000 before the offensive. It is not known how many stayed behind but the number may be as high as 50,000. The city center is a ghost town.

The Iraqi caretaker government and the US military announced last week that approximately 2000 heads of household would be permitted back in the al-Andalus district, considered one of the most secure. Some 900 persons, mostly men, accepted the offer and underwent several security checks before being admitted into the sector. The US military observed that the results of the effort were encouraging and expected to see more returning refugees to al-Andalus in the coming days. Other districts will be opened soon, but there will be no running water, power or other essential utilities. The Iraqi government will offer a $2000 indemnity for partially destroyed homes, $4000 for severe damage and $10000 for total destruction. Shopowners will receive between 1500 and 3000 depending on the size of the premises and the merchandize sold.

Fadil al-Badrani (Reuters), L'Orient Le Jour

December 26 Events in Iraq

Baghdad. Lawyer for Tarek Aziz to demand release of his client. Bady Aref Izzat, lawyer for Tarek Aziz, will ask for the release of Aziz on grounds of insufficient evidence. No charge has been brought agaist him...the law required that a charge be filed against him personally.

Armenian Parliament approves deployment. The Armenian Parliament has approved a request by the government to deploy 43 non-combat military personnel to Iraq. The vote was 91 to 23. Armenian youth organizations have protested the decision, saying that the 20,000 Iraqis of Armenian origin might suffer consequences because of the decision.

Washington. Bush to request $80 billion for Iraq in February.

London. British Intelligence reorganized. The Director of MI-6, John Scarlett, has announced a reorganization of British intelligence and intends to separate intelligence gathering from analysis.

Baghdad. Iraqi Electoral Commission rejects a proposal by the United States to guarantee a certain number of seats in the national assembly to Sunni Arabs, even if Sunni political parties do no do well in the January elections.

Baiji. A man and his son were killed by a roadside bomb and a Turkish truck driver was ambushed and killed by unknown assailants.

Damascus. Syria denies accusations that it is behind the Iraqi guerrilla movement. Threatening statements by certain American and regional Arab officials against Syria are part of a concerted effort by them and Israeli media to demonize our country. reports the government daily, Al-Baas.

Mossul. Identity of suicide bomber revealed. Ansar al-Sunna has produced a video showing an explosion inside what appears to be Camp Maretz and footage of the bomber, identified as Abu Omar Al-Mussuli, being cheered by militants.

Chorgat. A city councilman of this town, south of Mosul, was kidnapped from his home between Saturday and Sunday.

Baghad. A member of the National Democratic Party was shot dead by unknown gunmen. Party leader Mithal al-Alloussi says the victim had been threatened after participating in an anti-Syria demonstration.

Karbala. A family of seven was killed in the explosion of their home.

Karbala. Two arrests. One man was arrested for possession of 3,000 mortar rounds. Another was arrested for possession of detonators.

Baghdad. Allawi : The vote is more powerful than bullets. Premier Allawi promises transparent and open elections next month in Iraq in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Iraqis will have a unique opportunity to close the chapter on tyranny, which lasted decades, and to take the first steps towards the future.

Baghdad. Pachachi. Sunni politician Adnan Pachachi announced yesterday that he has refused to join Mr. Allawi's election list, saying that he wishes to keep his political party independent. Allawi had invited the Movement of Independent Democrats to join his slate. Pachachi indicates that it was impossible to agree on the number of candidates to run and on the order in which their names would appear on Allawi's slate. Pachachi also denied that some of his party's candidates had joined Allawi's list.

15:42 Baghdad. Six dead between Baghdad and Samarra. Six people died in separate incidents this morning.

13:31 Mossul. Three US soldiers wounded in bombing. A roadside bomb blew up a US military vehicle in the Masaref district, wounding three soliders.

09:04 Baghdad. Police official assassinated. Col. Yassin Ibrahim Jawad was assassinated my masked gunmen as he was being driven to work. His two bodyguards were wounded.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas Day: Events in Iraq.

Feedback from Fallujah. Returning residents have left the city, saying not even animals could live there.

Balad. An Iraqi was killled when a roadside bomb detonated prematurely.

16:15 Mossul. Homemade bomb blows up police van. A police van was blown up in Mossul. The driver had just dropped off Iraqi security forces at their base and was killed or kidnapped.

16:09 Ramadi. Rebels linked to al-Zarqawi captured. US Marines say Saleh Arugayan Khalil, known as Abu Obaida, and Bassem Mohammad Hazim, known as Abu Khattab, were captured between 8 and 12 December.

15:48 Baghdad. Christian churches empty. Only Our Lady of Salvation Church celebrated Christmas mass in Baghdad.

15:33 Khan al-Nus. Carbomb kills five. Five persons were killed in the blast of a carbomb meant for a US convoy in Khan al-Nus between Karbala and Najaf.

13:40 Baquba, Iraqi interpreter and wife ambushed and killed.

13:05 Najaf. Police accuse Syria for Najaf bombing. Najaf Police Chief Ghaleb al Jazairim blamed Syria for the recent bombing in Najaf, claiming a suspect confessed and named Syria as acting behind the scenes.

13:02 Ankara. Ransom demanded for kidnapped Turk. A kidnapped Turkish shipowner is being ransomed for $25 million, reported the Turkish private TV netwok NTV. Kahraman Sadikoglu was kidnapped in the port city of Umm Qass together with a ship captain and Sadikoglu's chauffeur and bodyguard. All four are Turkish. Sadikoglu is the CEO of International Marine Contractors, based in Dubai. His company was awarded a contract for $25 million for the salvaging of 19 sunken ships in a canal at Umm Qasr. Sadikoglu was about to be awarded a second contract for $90 million by the UN for the salvaging of other wrecks.

12:27 Kuwait City. Philippines Embassy car fired upon. Unknown gunmen opened fire on a car carrying a family which had diplomatic plates belonging to the Embassy of the Philippines.

12:18 Ankara. Two Turkish nationals kidnapped. A Turkish businessman and one of his employees were kidnapped in Iraq according to footage broadcast by the Turkish network NTV. The black and white footage shows a man who says in Turkish and in English that his name is Kahraman Sadikoglu and that he runs a firm operating in Basrah and Umm Qasr. A second man, introduced as Captain Ahmet, is an employee of Sadikoglu. "We were kidnapped with a group of four others 5 days ago because we did something bad in Iraq." The video was dated 23 December.

11:21 Baghdad. Three Iraqis killed. Three Iraqis were killed by a US patrol in west Baghdad. In north Baghdad, two others were killed by unknown gunmen.

10:40 Baghdad. EIght killed in explosion. Eight persons including the bomber were killed and 19 wounded yesterday in Baghdad. Another two bodies were recovered this morning. In total eight bodies were recovered: 5 women, two men and the bomber.

09:32 Mossul. Dozens arrested. US troops arrested 34 people in Mossul following the bombing of a US base on Tuesday which killed 22.

09:20 Baghdad. Death toll climbs in suicide bombing.

08:50 Baghdad. Blast caused by truck bomb. A fuel truck exploded in the Mansour district in west Baghdad. At least two are dead and 13 are wounded.

08:24 Baghdad. Powerful blast witnessed. A powerful blast was heard in the Mansur district. A dense column of smoke is seen rising from the scene. US troops have surrounded the area.

Friday, December 24, 2004

December 24 Events in Iraq

21:18 Baghdad: Second blast. An hour after a first blast in Baghdad's Mansour district, a second ocurred nearby. No futher information.

21:03 Baghdad. 12 dead and 15 wounded in Baghdad blast. An explosion occurred not far from the Jordanian and Libyan legations in the Mansour district of Baghdad. The explosion may have been by caused by a fuel truck. Witnesses say the headquarters of Ahmed Chelabi's Iraqi National Congress is also nearby. A fire is raging in the area.

19:02 Tikrit. Rumsfeld: US troop level to be raised to 150,000. Rumsfeld officially informs US troops in Iraqi of planned increase.

18:59 Baghdad. Christmas mass held early. Christmas Eve midnight mass began early, at 5:00 pm, in the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in downtown Baghad. Police and Christain vigilantes provided security. Christians number 700,000 in Iraq which is 3 percent of the population.

17:23 Baghdad. Imams blame US for bombings in Najaf and Kerbala. Several Shi'ite imams have directly blamed ex-Ba'athist security operatives, the USA, the UK and Israel for the bombings in the holy cities of Najaf and Kerbala last Sunday. Among the accusers was extremist leader Moqtada Al Sadr.

15:41 Baghdad. Sunni imams demand postponement of elections. In Friday prayers, Sunni imams across Iraq demanded a postponement of the elections scheduled for 30 January, which they termed a sham. How are we supposed to go to the ballot box under the current conditions? So that truly free elections may be held, we should be free first. If the date is unchanged, the elections are going to be a sham., says Imam Ahmed Hassan al-Taha of Baghdad's Abu Hanifa Mosque.

15:22 Nassiriya. Italian Carabinieri and Red Cross deliver supplies and gifts to Nassiriya orphanage. The Carabinieri of the Multinational Specialized Unit and the staff of the 6th Hospital Surgery Team delivered bottled water, medicine and toys to the Al Ajias Nursery Orphanage of Nassiriya.

13:41 London. UK freezes funds. The UK has frozen the funds of a Saudi group suspected of aiding al Qaeda. Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown instructed the Bank of England to freeze the funds and assetsof the Movement for the Reform of Islam in Arabia.

13:02 Washington Post: Powell informed Bush that there were insufficient US troop numbers in Iraq. The Washington Post reports that Colin Powell is responsible for the recent deployment of 12,000 additional troops to Iraq after having informed George Bush and Tondy Blair that the number of US troops in Iraq was insufficient.

12:52 Al Anbar. Three Marines killed. No details.

12:43 Baghdad. Three Iraqis killed in attacks north of capital. Three Iraqis including a tribal chieftain and a child, were killed and eleven civilians wounded in separate attacks north of Baghdad. Sheik Khalifa Mohsen Al-Baniwis-Baniwis was assassinated during the night by unknown assailants near Dhoulouiyah, 70 km north of Baghdad. The sheik had been considered a moderate and was a member of a municipal council approved by US forces in the area. Another Iraqi was killed and four others wounded in clashes between rebels and Iraqi National Guard. A child was killed and three adults wounded between Samarra and Tikrit by the explosion of a roadside bomb. In Samarra, 125 km north of Baghdad, four persons were wounded in further clashes between rebels and Iraqi National Guard.

12:23 Rumsfeld visits Tikrit and Fallujah. After stopping in Mosul, US Secretary of Defense Donad Rumsfeld travelled to Tikrit and Falljuah. In Tikrit he met with the commandant of the 1st Infantry Division, Gen. John Batiste. Batiste told Rumsfeld that 90% of the threats in the area came from ex-Ba'athists.

12:06 Archbishop of Westminster to criticize billions spent on war. Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop of England and Wales will criticize the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair in his homily at the traditional Welsh Mass for the billions of pounds spent on the war in Iraq.

11:31 Baquba. Two police stations attacked. Armed men raided two police stations in Baquba, a farming town between Baghdad and Iranian border, where guerrillas are very active against the US occupation. According to witnesses fighting is ongoing in the Mafraq suburbs. Rebels are armed with RPGs and mortars.

11:30 Kirkuk. Kurdish officials kidnapped. Three Kurdish officials were kidnapped and a fourth was wounded in an ambush near Kirkuk by unknown assailants wearing stolen Iraqi National Guard uniforms.

11:28 Rumsfeld in Mosul to raise morale. Donald Rumsfeld made a surprise visit to the US military base in Mosul which was bombed a few days ago. The Secretary of Defense had with him an impressive security escort.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Happy "Welcome Back to Fallujah" Day

Today is Happy Welcome Back to Fallujah Day. The US military had agreed to let 2,000 "heads of household" into the al-Andalus quarter (one of 18 Fallujah districts) to survey their property before making a decision to come back. Now this al-Andalus quarter is considered to be the area having sustained the least amount of damage in the fighting. So 200 people out of the 250,000 residents in exile show up, an order of magnitude less than expected 2,000, and agree to have the iris scan and the fingerprinting--basically "booked" minus a charge. So they go into town, take a look at their homes and run out of city shreiking. That's right, shreiking in horror not only at the damage to their bombed and looted homes, but at the uncollected bodies of those killed in recent weeks still inside their homes.

The French Reporters' Farewell to Iraq.

A pair of French reporters held prisoner for ransom by the Iraqi Islamic Army for 124 days arrived back home in France yesterday. Before being loaded into the trunk of a Mercedes to the arranged location for release, their captors told them the following:

Listen well. Do not come back to Iraq. This is the land of war. We don't need reporters. We're going to settle the score with the Americans. This country is full of armed men who are out trapping Westerners.

December 23 Events in Iraq

Egyptian Mohammed el-Baradei seeks a third mandate as the head of the IAEA. Although Mohammed el-Baradei is the only candidate for the mandate, his reelection is not assured. The filing deadline for other candidates is 31 December. The 35 members of the IAEA Board of Governors are to formally elect a new Director-General in 2005 when it meets in Vienna in September. The United States wants to replace Mr. el-Baradei because he is not in its opinion sufficiently firm with Iran, which Washington accuses of developing a nuclear arsenal under cover of a civilian nuclear program. Washington has stated that it does not want to see 62 year-old Dr. el-Baradei at the helm of the agency but they have not as yet proposed a good alternative candidate. The US is attempting to convince Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer to run against Dr. el-Baradei.

Dr. el-Baradei enjoys the support of the non-aligned and certain European countries on the Board of Governors. Dr. el-Baradei incurred the wrath of the US government when he questioned statements by US officials that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, which have never been found. El-Baradei had amassed significant capital when the agency was on the front lines against the nuclear proliferation in the "rogue states" of Iran, Iraq and North Korea. He also conducted a campaign to toughen the provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Bagdad claims it has compromising information concerning Damascus. The Iraqi ambassador to Syria, Hassan Allawi, claims in an interview with the Times of London that the Iraqi caretaker government has a number of photographs of Syrian officials shown in the company of Iraqi rebels later taken prisoner in Fallujah. The caretaker government has refused to publish the photos despite pressure from the US military to do so. Allawi says the photos were found in the possession of an arrested ex-Ba'ath official. Syria denies any connection to the rebellion and emphasizes that it has reinforced its frontier with Iraq.

Kurds demand referendum on independence. A Kurdish group has submitted a petition signed by 1.7 million Iraqis to the United Nations demanding a referendum on an independent Kurdish state. The Kurds have been under international protection for 13 years, affirming their independence in South Kurdistan (northern Iraq). They do not wish to be controlled by an Arab-dominated Iraq. The Kurds of Iraq are ethnically, culturally and philosophically distinct from Arab Iraqis and during the last 80 years, they have been repressed, enslaved and slaughtered by the Arab Iraqi state. All the signatures were gathered in Iraqi Kurdistan.", explains the Director of the Kurdish Institute in Washington and a member of the group of petitioners who went to the UN. We have also presented our petition to the Iraqi government.

20:46 Founding editor of USA today comes out against the war. USA Today's founding editor Al Neuharth says that if he were in the military, we would do anything to avoid service in Iraq. Neuharth says "support the troops" is a fantasy slogan and if people really wanted to help them, they'd push to bring them home as soon as possible.

20:20 Paris: French reporters say insurgents thought Baldoni was a spy. French reporters say their jailer told them that Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni was executed for espionnage.

19:17 Mossul. Camp suicide bomber wore Iraqi National Guard uniform. Bomber entered Camp Meretz mess tent wearing stolen uniform.

18:04 Baghdad. Tareq Aziz will not testify against Saddam Hussein. Lawyer Bady Aref Izzat says his client, Tareq Aziz, will not testify against Saddam. The legal team defending Iraq's ex-leaders say the prisoners are being pressured to testify against Saddam. They are being held in Camp Cropper in separate cells and are permitted to speak to each other for three hours a day.

17:50 Al Anbar. Three marines killed in combat in separate clashes in al Anbar province.

16:46 Baghdad. Four blasts rock capital.

15:36 Fallujah. Heads of household authorized to inspect property but few show up. 300 Fallujah residents from among the 250,000 who fled the city show up to inspect their property in the al Andalous quarter. The US military was prepared to let up to 2000 homeowners return to the city for inspection on Thursday.

15:23 Budapest. Hungarian contingent completes pullout. 1,300 Hungarian troops serving in Iraq have completed their pullout following a November 2004 vote by parliament against extending the deployment.

15:13 Baghdad. Zarqawi denies responsibility for Karbala and Najaf bombings. The al Qaeda Organizationof Iraq announces that it is not responsible for the incidents in Karbala and Najaf. The two bombings killed more than 60 people.

14:23 Rome. Italy requests deposition from French reporters. The Rome Prosecutors's Antiterrorism Office would like to take depositions from the released French reporters, who have said they were imprisoned in a farmhouse with executed Italian reporter Enzo Baldoni.

14:14 Fallujah. Violent clashes. Violent clashes are reported between rebels and US troops. F-18 aircraft have bombarded the southern half of the city.

13:08 Ramadi. Police chief quits. Fawaz al-Duleimi, police chief for al Anbar Province, has resigned after receiving death threats. Last week rebels surrounded his home and seriously wounded his brother. Al-Duleimi's predecessor was arrested by US troops for collusion with the rebels.

10:25 Paris. French foreign intelligence service credited for release of kidnapped reporters. French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier says the release of reporters Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot was the result of a French intelligence operation conducted by the DGSE (Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure).

10:08 Yusufiyah. Raids by US and Iraqi forces yield 43 arrests. US and Iraqi forces conduct raids in Yusufiya, Haswah and Mahmudiya.

10:04 Baghdad. US soldier dies and two wounded by roadside bomb. A US soldier was killed and two wounded in the explosion of a roadside bomb in west Baghdad.

09:33 Baghdad. Two attacks cause four deaths. An Iraqi policeman was killed along with three civilians in two raids, one on a mosque and one on a police station. The Achra Mohammadia mosque in west Baghdad received mortar fire, which killed three civilians and wounded three others. Rebels also attacked the Al-Mamun police station in the Mansur district killing one policeman and gravely wounding another. It was the third attack in two days.

09:24 Baghdad. Allawi says he has proof that Damascus is supporting the rebels. In an interview with the Jordanian newspaper al-Rai, Iyad Allawi says he has sent a message to Syrian President with proof that the Syrian government is aiding the rebels.

08:48 Washington. Parents of slain soldier to deliver humanitarian aid to Fallujah. The parents of US GI Jesus Suarez will spend New Years in Iraq bringing humanitarian assistance for the children of Fallujah. Rosa Suarez says she will do everything possible to "stop the massacre of children." The couple, orginally from Mexico, will arrive in Jordan on Monday. They will be joined by the parents of other slain GIs in a convoy organized by "Global Challenge," which has collected $600,000 in food and medical assistance for Iraqi children.

08:37 Karbala. Six suspected al Qaede members arrested. Karbala poilce says they arrested six people with links to al Qaeda.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

December 22 Events in Iraq

Hunt for rebels in Mossul. Following the attack on Camp Meretz, the US has closed the bridges over the Tigris in Mossul. The Governor of Nineveh Province, Duraid Kachmula, has warned that anyone attempting to cross the bridges would be risking his life [i.e., shot?--Nur].

Baghdad. A city official, two police and a Turkish truck driver are shot dead south of Baghdad.

Amman. Allawi in Jordan. Iraqi Premier Iyad Allawi confirms elections will be held on 30 January. Allawi is in Jordan to discuss the elections with King Abdallah II and World Bank President James Wolfensohn.

Diwaniyah. Polish officials visit Polish base. Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka and Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski visited the Polish base in Diwaniyah.

Fallujah. 2,000 heads of household permitted to inspect their property. Iraqi Minister of State for National Security Kassem Daoud says 2,000 heads of household will be permitted to inspect their property in Fallujah before deciding to return with their families. US military warns that rebels are attempting to infiltrate back into the city.

Baghdad. Depression among Marines. The suicide rate in the Marine Corps has reached its highest level in five years. The Pentagon is encouraging Corps members to seek psychiatric help.

Teheran. Iran forbits Shi'ite pilgrimages to Iraq. Iran has announced the closing of its frontier with Iraq and has forbidden pilgrimages to Shi'a holy sites there. The entire frontier is closed in both directions, reports IRNA, the official government news agency.

Amman. Egypt and Jordan insist on preserving the Arab character of Iraq. Egypt and Jordan say they will act against any attempt to divide Iraq up between Shi'ites and Sunnis. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abu Gheith and his Jordanian counterpart Hani Mulki insist on the maintenance of the "Arab character" of Iraq. Jordanian FM Mulki says the Arab identity of Iraq is in danger and that Jordan has proof of the involvement of Iraq's neighbors in attempting to create a zone of Iranian influence.

22:17 Al Anbar, police chief quits. The police chief for al Anbar Province resigns to protest staff reductions.

21:48 Mahmudiya, five dead. Five were killed and 20 wounded in a carbombing this evening in Mahmudiya. The casualty toll may be higher, say hospital officials.

21:17 Mossul, Myers: attack was a suicide bomb. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers confirms suicide bomber carried out attack in camp mess tent.

21:07 Mossul. Casualty toll updates. Military sources says 13, not 14, US soldiers were killed as well as 5 US civilians, 4 of whom worked for Halliburton. Total wounded are 69, 42 of whom have been evacuated to the US military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. 8 are in critical condition.

20:30 Mossul. FBI investigates mess tent bombing in Camp Maretz.

19:59 Samarra, four are dead. Four die in two separate incidents in Samarra.

19:45 Mahmudiya, explosion in shopping district. Explosion rocks the Husseiniya district in Mahmudiya. Witnesses say a fuel truck exploded at a service station near a secondary school.

19:31 Paris. French reporters ridicule Didier Julia rescue mission. Chesnot and Malbrunot says self-serving parliamentarian's rescue mission could have endangered their lives.

19:29 Paris. French reporters: "We never lost hope". Release French reporters say they never lost hope for their release but were treated well while held hostage by the Islamic Army.

18:37 Mossul, Turkish truck driver killed. Saban Ozsagir, 30, from the town of Batman [sic] in southeast Anatolia was killed when his truck was hijacked and set on fire.

18:37 Carbombing in Mahmudiya, several casualties.

18:36 French reporters welcomed back to France by President Chirac and Prime Minister Raffarin.

17:03 Baghdad. Bombing wipes out family. A family of five was killed today by a roadside bomb along a street in Baghdad commonly used by US military convoys.

16:41 Mossul. Bombing was a suicide. ABC TV says ramains of human torso with a suicide vest have been found inside the tent at the US base where the bombing occurred.

15:46 Three Iraqis killed in Samarra. Two Iraqis, including a 9 year-old child, were killed in Samarra by a roadside bomb intended for a US military convoy. The body of a third person who worked for the Iraqi forces was discovered in the same area.

14:39 Richmond. US contractor abandons Iraq due to risks. Contrack International Inc. of Richmond, Virginia, which had won a $325 million contract for the rebuilding of roads and bridges in Iraq, has left the country. Corporation President Karim Camel-Toueg says the pricetag for security for its staff and equipment was prohibitive.

14:07 Nicosia. French reporters stop in Cyprus. A French military aircraft returning the released French journalists to France made a stop in Cyprus.

12:56 Rome. Italian President Ciampi: "Rebuild Iraqi Army as fast a possible". Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi says it is essential to reconstitute the Iraqi Army without delay.

12:11 Paris. Chirac: "We will not let downour guard". French President Jacques Chirac says "France will continue its determined monitoring of all forms of terrorsism" and has called on the public to remember hostages elsewhere in the world. I have Ingrid Betancourt in my thoughts, who has been held hostage in Colombia for more than two years.

11:28 Baghdad. French reporters depart. French reporters Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot left Baghdad aboard a French military C-130 aircraft. The plane will stop in Cyprus, where the reports will transfer to a Falcon 900 with French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier and their family members aboard. The aircraft is expected at 6:00 pm at the Villacoublay Air Base, outside Paris. Jacques Chirac will be on hand to greet the returning reporters.

11:25 Paris. Chirac, reporters in route for Paris. President Jacques Chirac addressed the nation welcoming the release of the French reporters. We owe their release to national unity, to our diversity, our cohesion, our solidarity and our values.

11:15 Washington. US troops contract rare form of pneumonia. At least 18 US soldiers deployed to Iraq have been stricken with a rare form of pneumonia, from which two have died, says the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. The disease is due to prolonged breathing of sand-filled air.

11:13 Washington. Americans worried about Iraqi crisis. According to a survey conducted by CNN, Usa Today and Gallup, 90 percent of Americans believe the Iraq crisis is extremely or very important. This is 9 percentage points higher than last year's results.

11:12 Al-Anbar. Marine dies. A US marine injured in a road accident yesterday in al-Anbar Province.

11:07 Mossul, final death toll. Twenty dead, including 15 US military personnel and 5 civilians, is the death toll in yesterday's bombing. In addition, two members of Iraq's security forces were killed. 66 are wounded: 42 US soldiers, 10 US civilians, 9 Iraqi civilians, 1 member of Iraq's security forces and 4 others whose nationality was not given.

11:06 Paris. Sister of Christian Chesnot, "It's going to be a big day". Anne-Marie Chesnot, sister of released French reporter Christian, says the family intends to celebrate return of hostage.

11:03 Paris. French hostages: No ransom paid. French Prime Minister Jean Pierre Raffarin says that no ransom was paid but that negotiations for their release was conducted by intermediaries.

04:40 The Hague. Dutch contingent to quit Iraq. The government of the Netherlands has decided to withdraw its contingent from Iraq, says Defense Minister Kamp, despite pressure from the US, the UK, Japan and Iraq.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

December 21 Events in Iraq

Baghdad. The mayor of a town north of Baghdad and two other civilians were killed in separate attacks.

Latifiyah. Bodies of two Iraqi National Guardsmen found.

Siniya. A child, Ayoub Mohammed, was kidnapped in Siniya, a town near Baïji, 200 km north of Baghdad.

Baghdad. Sunni clerics condemn anti-Shi'ite bombings. The Committee of Iraqi Ulema has condemned Sunday's bombings in Najaf and Karbala.

Khabbaza. Five oilwells ablaze. Five wells are ablaze in the locality of Khabbaza, 35 km west of Kirkuk, after they were sabotaged in mid-November.

Baghdad. Iraqi Oil Minister Thamer Abbas Ghadbane says sabotage on 11 December knocked out the supply of petroleum for national consumption and that this may affect the January 30 general elections. The Iraqi caretaker government has decided to reinforce pipeline security, currently the responsibility of tribes and private contractors.

17:41 Mossul. Many American casualties. The commandant of US base attacked this morning in Mossul, Gen. Ham, says there are at least 20 dead, including four civilian Iraqi contractors and an Iraqi solider. Three Halliburton contractors and two subcontractors are among the victims.

17:38 Paris. Release of hostages confirmed. French Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hervè Ladsous, says Chesnot and Malbrunot have been freed and will be flown to France tomorrow.

17:27 Baghdad. French reporters freed because they were not spies. The Islamic Army in Iraq releases kidnapped French reporters because they demonstrated that they were not spies of the USA and out of appreciation for France's stance on the war and the Palestinian cause.

17:01 Baghdad. Al Jazeera, French hostages freed. Al Jazeera reports that kidnapped French reporters Jacques Chesnot and George Malbrunot have been freed by their captors.

16:58 Mossul. US soldiers believed attack was inevitable. US troops inside Camp Marez have feared an attack on their installation for weeks. Several soldiers said that the tent housing the mess hall, which can hold up to 500 people, was a potential target.

16:17 Mossul. Ansar al Sunna claims credit for attack. The Islamist group Ansar al Sunna claimed responsibility in the attack on a dining hall inside a US base in Mossul. A member of the Mujaheddin of the Ansar al Sunna Army conducted a suicide operation inside the dining hall of the occupation forces.

15:57 Washington. White House "saddened". Presidential Press Secretary Scott McClellan says the White House is saddened by the bombing in Mossul. The attack "shows that the enemies of freedom continue in their attempt to derail the transition to a free and democratic Iraq."

14:35 Mossul. Explosion inside US base, at least 22 dead. CNN reports 22 dead inside the Camp Merez airbase in the southeast of the city.

14:33 Rome. Berlusconi: Phased withdrawal. Berlusconi says he plans talks with the Iraqi government on pulling out of Iraq.

13:41 Baghdad. Voting regulations. Seven thousand polling stations will be open from 7am to 5pm. Political parties on the ballot will be color-coded.

11:58 Baghdad. Blair: "We are doing the right thing". Premier Tony Blair gives press conference with colleague Iyad Allawi inside the heavily-fortified Green Zone.

11:56 Blair: "Elections will be held". Blair says voters are the "heros of new Iraq."

11:26 Blair visits Baghdad. Tony Blair makes unannounced visit to Baghdad from Amman aboard a Royal Air Force transport plane.

10:43 Baquba. Scientist assassinated. Armed men assassinated nuclear scientist Taleb Ibrahim al-Dhaher of the University of Diyala as he drove to work.

10:43 Beiji. Oil pipeline sabotage. An explosion struck a pipeline transporting petroleum from the Kirkuk oil fields to the country's largest refinery in Beiji. Damage is extensive. A second explosion occurred to the west where a pipeline transports petroleum to a smaller refinery near Baghdad.

10:36 Baghdad. Iraqi police death toll tops 1,000. Interior Minister Falah al Nakib says more than 1000 members of the reconstituted police have been killed by rebels.

09:20 Hawija. Five marines wounded . Five US soldiers and a civilian were wounded by a roadside bomb in Hawija in the north of Iraq. The six, travelling in the same vehicle, were rescued. One suspect was arrested. Meanwhile, four rebels were arrested last evening in Auja, Saddam Hussein's home town.

09:19 Hit. Six die in US air strikes. At least 6 Iraqis are dead and 10 wounded in US nighttime airstrikes on the city of Hit, northwest of Baghdad. The raid lasted all night long.

04:04 Ottawa. Canada to head monitoring group. International experts in electoral processses have created a new institution to monitor the 30 January elections in Iraq. Most monitors will not set foot in Iraq, however, but will remain outside the country. They will be in remote contact with Iraqi vote monitoring organizations.

00:28 New York. Majority in US opinion poll support keeping troops in Iraq. Pew Research Center says 56% of Americans surveyed believe US troops should remain in Iraq.

Monday, December 20, 2004

December 20 Events in Iraq

Washington. Syrian member of parliament Mohammed Habash was denied entry into the United States on 13 December at Dulles International Airport in Washington. Airport officials cancelled his entry visa, which was valid until 2006 and issued by the US embassy in Damascus. Mr. Habash, an MP and Islamic intellectual, said authorities told him that there was a new rule governing the entry of Syrians, who now require special permission of the US Secretary of State. Said Mr.Habash, The attitude of [Homeland Security] was inappropriate toward a legislator and representative of the Syrian people. The [US authorities] are unaware of the different currents of thought [in Islam]. We represent a current of moderate Islam; we reject violence and we do not excuse terrorist acts carried out in Iraq. Habash is the director of the Center for Islamic Studies founded in Damascus in 1986, representing moderate Islam and open to dialog with the West.

Washington. President Bush threatens Syria and Iran with reprisals. Bush threatened Syria and Iran with diplomatic sanctions and economic pressure in a news conference this morning. The President accused both countries of funding the insurgency and of infiltrating their intelligence agents into Iraq.

Washington. President Bush refuses to indicate a calendar for pullout. During today's press conference, the US president refused to give a date for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Baghdad. Iraqi officials accuse al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein loyalists of bombings. Several Iraqi officials accused al Qaeda and persons loyal to Saddam Hussein of carrying out yesterday's bombings in Najaf et Kerbala. Prime Minister Iyad Allawi blamed the alliance between Jordanian Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi et Osama Bin Laden's al Qaeda organization for the devastation and bloodshed. Both Abdel Aziz al-Hakim and Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Saïd al-Hakim concurred with this analysis. The Governor of Najaf, Adnan Zorfi, rounded up 50 suspects today in Najaf and released all but one, an Arab foreigner.

Ankara. Turkey denounces "cowardly trap." Turkish authorities denounced the "cowardly trap" laid for five Turkish police, who were murdered in Kurdish-controlled Iraq. Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced the "terrorists" and "assassins" who are without religion, race or country. There are traitors in Iraq who do not respect the efforts expended by Turkey to guarantee the political and territorial integrity of Iraq., added Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül. [N.B. This means Kurdish nationalists--Nur]

Baghdad. Iraqi government announces return of residents to Fallujah. US mililtary and the Iraqi interim government will permit the return Thursday of residents of the al-Andalus district of Fallujah, located in the southwest quadrant of the city. No cars will be allowed. The city has been supplied with food staples, drinking water and fuel. Each family will receive an envelope with $500. For each destroyed home, residents will receive up to $10,000. [N.B. Surely that's paltry--Nur]

Baghdad. 28 members of the People's Mujahideen in Iran returned to Iraq. Twenty-eight Iranian members of the People's Mujahideen, the principal armed opposition to Iran's Islamic régime, were repatriated to Iraq thanks to the efforts of the Red Cross. On 19 and 20 December, the ICRC repatriated 28 Iranians to Iraq. They will be held at Camp Asraf under the authority of the US military.

Yathrib. Iraqi truck driver killed. A truck driver leaving a US base near Yathrib after delivering supplies to a US military base was killed.

Yathrib. Bodies found. The bodies of three Iraqi National Guardsmen kidnapped by rebels on Sunday were found.

Touz. Iraqi National Guardsman killed. An Iraqi national guardsman was killed by armed men.

Sulayman Beik. Interpreter killed. An Iraqi interpreter for US troops was shot dead.

Samarra. One dead, two wounded. An Iraqi woman was killed and two others wounded by a roadside bomb near Samarra.

Tikrit. Turkish truck driver killed. A truck under escort by US troops struck a roadside bomb in downtown Tikrit near the university. The driver was killed.

Samarra. Two politicians assassinated. Two members of the Higher Council for National Salvation party led by Wafiq Hamud al-Samarra'i, former head of Iraqi Military Intelligence until 1991, were assassinated.

Mossul. US and Iraqi troops raid mosque. US and Iraqi forces raided the Ahmed Ismaïl mosque and arrested its imam, Sheik Bachar Awad. Sheik Awad is a member of the Committee of Iraqi Ulema, which has boycotted the 30 January elections. Another unnamed mosque in Mosul was also raided in an attempt to seize "a cleric responsible for incitation to violence", who was not there at the time.

16:14 Teheran. US and Israel behind Shi'ite bombings. Iran has accused the US and Israel of planning the two bombings in the Shi'ite cities Karbala and Najaf in which 66 people were killed. I am certain that the American and Israeli clandestine services were behind those acts., said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme Iranian religious leader. This is a plot whose objective is to distract Iraqis from joining in the exceptional occasion of the 30 January elections. The Americans and the British wish to maintain the façade of holding real elections but their aim is to install their agents in power through superficial elections.

15:52 New York. US soldier found guilty in homicide. A US soldier killed an Iraqi boy employed by the police after having sex with him in a guardtower near Tikrit then lied about it. A US military tribunal found him guilty. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

15:46 Baghdad. Catholic churches cancel Christmas mass. Traditional midnight mass on Christmas eve will be cancelled, says Bishop Andreas Abouna. The mass will be held instead at 5:00 pm on 24 December. Mass on Christmas Day morning will be celebrated at the normal hours, said the bishop.

15:28 Achaki. Four dead. Four men, including three foreigners, were killed by automatic weapons fire in Achaki, 20 km south of Samarra after a roadside bomb struck their vehicle, which part of a civilian convoy.

11:55 Najaf. 50 arrests. Fifty people were arrested by the Iraqi police in Najaf. Provincial Governor Adnan al-Zurufi has closed off the city center after yesterday's fatal bombing.

11:09 Balad. Six bodies found. Six corpses were found near Balad and Baijia. At least two were Iraqi national guardsmen.

09:15 Tikit. Coalition employee assassinated. An Iraqi woman engineer working as a coordinator between the US military and private security contractors was assassinated.

08:30 Paris. Kidnapped French reporters alive. The French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier says he has information that kidnapped French reporters Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, "are alive and well."

Sunday, December 19, 2004

December 19 Events in Iraq

Amman. Spokesman Abdel Rahim al-Jamal of the Jordanian truck drivers union has announced that US forces have released five Jordanian truck drivers whom they had arrested in early December. They have been cleared of all suspicion. The truck drivers had been arrested on December 3 after delivering automobiles to Iraq. Jordanian government spokesman Asma Khodr said his government negotiated for their release.

Baghdad. Curfew imposed on city and an addition 35 checkpoints were set up to prevent cars with hidden explosives to enter town.

Karbala. Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Saïd Al-Hakim asks caretaker government to "do everything to end [the bombings] and to arrest the organizers behind such acts".

00:21 Saddam Hussein urges Iraqis to unite. Khalil Doulami, laywer for Saddam Hussein, says the ex-President urges Iraqis of all faiths and ethnicities to unite against the United States; concerning the elections, he advises Iraqis to be prudent.

19:45 Al Qaeda is preparing attack on Suez Canal. Dubai TV network al Arabiya reports that the Arabic daily al Watan has published a story saying that al Qaeda is planning an attack on the Suez Canal and the Iraqi petroleum port of Umm Qasr.

18:22 Rockets confiscated. Prime Minister Iyad Allawi says Iraqi forces have found a number of rockets meant to be fired at elections commission offices. He did not indicate the manufacture of the rockets nor location or time of the find

17:46 Karbala, death toll rises to 14. Fourteen are dead and fifty-seven wounded in the Karbala carbombing.

17:45 Hawija. Four Kurds killed. Four young Kurds were killed by unknown assailants as they walked around through an outdoor market in Sunni town of Hawija, 200 north of Baghdad. Two other Kurds were killed there on Friday.

16:44 Najaf, 48 victims of bombing. Fourty-eight people were killed and 90 wounded in a carbombing in Najaf.

16:32 Kuwait: Two US soldiers die in road accident. Two US servicemen are dead and two others wounded in a road accident just outside Kuwait City this morning.

15:24 Baghdad. Powerful blast heard. A violent explosion occurred in downtown Baghdad. No further information is available.

13:57 Nafaf carbombing, 30 dead. Following a carbombing in Karbala which killed 12 and wounded 34, another carbomb was detonated in Najaf near the tomb of Ali,

13:08 Baghdad. Iraq holds 1500 Iranian detainees. Iraq's prisons hold more that 1500 Iranians arrested as they attempted to make a pilgrimage to sacred Shi'ite religious sites in Iraq, says Iranian Foreign Ministery Masud Khaleghi. The Iranian government has succeeded in releasing only 142.

12:45 Karbala: 10 dead and 40 wounded. The toll of casualties continues to rise in Karbala after a carbomb detonated.

12:22 Baghdad. Iraqi Christians cancel Christmas celebrations. Yonadam Kanna, a Christian member of the interim caretaker government, says Iraqi Christians have cancelled Christmas celebrations out of respect for the dozen vicims of attacks on churches and monasteries in Iraq.

12:12 Baghdad. Three election office employees assassinated. Elections Commission spokesman Farid Ayar says three staffers at the Karkh elections office in Baghdad's Haifa Street were killed by unknown assailants this morning.

12:11 Karbala. Carbombing wounds 22. At least 22 persons have been wounded in the carbombing of a bus station, 500 meters from the Tomb of Imam Abbas. Witnesses said the car bomber drove into the bus station after having made several unsuccessful attempts to enter a police recruitment compound nearby.

12:11 Doha. Video shows 10 employees of the Sandi Group threatened with death. Both Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya broadcast a video showing 10 Iraqis, all employees of the US firm Sandi Group, held hostage by at least three previously unknown guerrilla groups: The Army of the Muhajedeen, The Black Flags Brigades, and the Mutassim Bellah Brigades. The date and time of the kidnapping is not known. Al Jazeera also reported that the hostages will be executed if the Sandi Group does not halt its business operations in Iraq. The ultimatum deadline is unknown. The hostages are said to be residents of Baghdad.

11:03 Basrah. Iraqi policeman killed. Police in Basrah say an Iraqi officer was killed in a shoot-out between rebels and Coalition troops in Basrah on Friday.

10:01 Baghdad. Mortar rounds hit mosque, four wounded. Four Iraqi security guards were wounded when two mortar rounds hit a main Sunni mosque in Baghdad.

08:05 Baghdad. Two Egyptian managers of the Orascom Mobile Phone Company were released by US forces, who arrested them last week and held them for several days under suspicion of aiding the guerrillas. Egyptian diplomatic mission spokesman Farouk Mabrouk says the arrests were the result of "a big misunderstanding."

07:04 Iraq arrests 45 clandestine pilgrims. Forty-five pilgrims entering Iraq from Iran were arrested in Mandali, 97 km east of Baghdad. The group said they were Muslim pilgrims from Iran, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

December 18 Events in Iraq

Beirut. Lebanese Head of Parliament wary of destabilization. Nabih Berry fears partition in Lebanon and sees in Iraq an attempt to spread the culture of violence and chaos beyond the Iraqi frontier. Berry warned against dismemberment of the country and voiced suspicion of certain actions by unnamed parties to divide Lebanon.

23:42 Basrah. British soldiers kill Iraqi police captain. British soldiers killed a police captain in southern Iraq and an investigation into the killing has been opened. According to police Lt. Col Karim Zaidi of Basrah, the officer was driving at high speed near a British patrol. The British, fearing a suicide carbomb, panicked and shot him behind the wheel 2 km from Zubair

20:47 Mossul. Iraqi killed by bomb. One Iraqi was killed and eight wounded in Mossul when a roadside bomb targeting a US convoy detonated.

17:59 Daughter of Iraqi ex-President and husband shot; son is kidnapped. The daughter of Abdel Salam Aref and her husband were killed last Monday, and their son was kidnapped. An armed group accused them of working for the Americans.

17:56 Baghdad. Sunnis demand postponement of elections. Adnan Pachachi, leader of the Sunni Independent Democrats Movement, has demanded a postponement of the January elections. We need more time to convince those political groupings who have reservations concerning the elections to participate in the political process, said Pachachi on Iraqi TV.

17:22 Group claims credit in slaying of two US civilians. The "Jihad Brigades" have claimed credit for the killing of two US civilian on 8 December.

16:53 Ramadi. Three dead and two wounded in clashes in Ramadi. Three are dead and two wounded in fighting with US troops west of Baghdad.

16:52 Bologna. Baldoni widow: "For us, the case is not closed." Giusy Bonsignore, widow of executed Italian reporter Enzo Baldoni, says she hopes remains of husband are found and returned to Italy.

16:51 Bin Laden effect on pipeline sabotage. Following an internet message from Osama Bin Laden calling for attacks on oil installations last Thursday, Iraq has seen an escalation in acts of pipeline sabotage. Between yesterday and today, five pipeline were attack: the most damage was noted in Fatha (Kirkuk), Dijla (Samarra) and Daura.

15:56 Beiji. Carbomb wounds four American civilians in Beiji. Four US contractors were wounded in a carbombing this morning in Beij. A car was boobytrapped and detonated remotely. The four are employees of Cochise Security Inc., with headquarters in Florida. Two were seriously wounded.

15:53 Dujail. Two killed and eight wounded in attack on campaign offices. Two were killed and eight wounded in a mortar attack on an elections information office in Dujail in the Province of Samarra, north of Baghdad. Five mortar shells were fired at the building. Six of the wounded were Iraqi National Guard.

15:50 Beiji. Turkey pipeline sabotaged. The Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline to Turkey was sabotaged by guerrillas near Beiji.

15:49 Baghdad. Two female employees of US base killed. Two Iraqi women working for the US base at Skania in south Baghdad and their driver were killed in the Dora district of Baghdad. Armed men opened fire on their car. The women were Christian.

14:52 Chemical Ali and ex-Defense Minister at pre-trial hearing. Pre-trial hearings were conducted today for Gen. Ali Hussein al Majid and ex-Defense Minister Sultan Hashem Ahmed by the Iraqi Special Tribunal.

08:02 Kirkik. Iraqi woman killed by US troops at checkpoint. US soldier shot and killed a young woman as she drove her car in the darkness past a US checkpoint in the Askari district of Kirkuk.

Friday, December 17, 2004

December 17 Events in Iraq

The U.S. Embassy confirmed the name of an American kidnapped six weeks ago in a deadly attack in the Iraqi capital, and his family pleaded Friday for his release. Roy Hallums, a worker for a Saudi company that does catering for the Iraqi army, was seized Nov. 1 along with two other foreigners after a gunbattle in the upscale Mansour neighborhood. An Iraqi guard and one attacker were killed.

Geneva. UN bugged. A sophisticated listening device of Russian fabrication was discovered behind some plants in the "Salon de France" used by high-ranking dignitaries at UN headquarters in Geneva.

Several Turkish embassy guards were ambushed and killed on their way back to Turkey.

Kirkuk. Three people were killed an a child wounded by a mortar round was fired at a camp sheltering Kurdish displaced persons 250 km north of Baghdad.

Karma. Two hundred Fallujah refugees demonstrated in Karma, 20 km north of Fallujah, demanding that they be allowed to return to their homes.

Baghdad. Human Rights Watch demands change in the Iraqi Special Tribunal. Human Rights watch says tribunal rules are seriously flawed and must be amended to guarantee a fair and equitable trial, says spokesman Richard Dicker. The tribunal rules currently permit judges inexperienced in war crimes and human rights violations to sit on the tribunal.

Conservative Iranian religious dignitary calls on Iraqis to vote. Ultraconservative Ayatollah Ahmed Janati called upon Iraqis to vote in the upcoming elections. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi called statements by Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan blaming Teheran for the insurrection unfounded and careless "propaganda."

Baghdad. Communist Party holds rally. 2,000 members of Iraq's Communist Party held an election rally in a sports arena in the capital.

19:29 Baiji, Zarqawi claims credit for pipeline sabotage. The Al Qaeda Organization of Rafidain (Mesopotamia) headed al Zarqawi claims responsibility for the sabotage of an oil pipeline north of Baghdad. The militants seem to have obeyed a directive from Supreme Commander Osama bin Laden to attack the oil infrastructures in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. "An explosive charge detonated near Fatha, 5 km northeast of Baiji," said oil company spokesman Mohammad Mannun.

17:39 Basrah. Airport to reopen in July. The Basrah International Airport will reopen in July 2005. A US company spent 4.9 million euros making repairs.

17:02 Baiji. Oil pipeline sabotaged. A pipeline transporting oil to the Baiji refinery has been sabotaged.

16:22 Mossul. Westerners ambushed, one is decapitated attempting to flee. Witnesses said one of three Westerners was beheaded after attempting to flee the scene of an ambush in the Yarmuk quarter of Mossul. The victims are between 20 and 30 years of age. Identification is difficult because the bodies have been charred beyond recognition. A taxi arriving from Baghdad was surrounded by armed and masked men who arrived by car. The occupants were shot and the vehicle was set afire. The rebels prevented anyone from approaching the scene.

16:00 Baghdad. Oil pipeline south of the city is sabotaged by armed men.

14:11 Mossul. Bodies of eight Iraqi civilians found. Six bodies were found today in Mossul. Another two corpses were found in Hamdaniyah, 30 km from Mossul. All had been killed by gunshot.

13:35 Mossul. Three westerners and an Iraqi killed. All were travelling in a white sedan when it was surrounded by gunmen.

8:20 Philadelphia. Soldier has himself shot to avoid return to Iraq. 23 year-old Marquise Roberts of the 3rd Infantry Division, home for two weeks of leave, had his cousin, Roland Fuller, shoot him in the leg to avoid returning to Iraq. The two were arrested.

08:22 Al Anbar. US marine killed.

04:18 Al Anbar. US marine killed. Marine is the eleventh victim killed by rebels in 24 hours.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

December 16 Events in Iraq

Washington. US asks United Nations to send more personnel to Iraq. The US has requested more UN staff in Iraq for the elections scheduled 30 January but Kofi Annan, who is in Washington, remains cautious. The campaign period has opened to more violence and the execution of an Italian national by an armed group.

Iyad Allawi and the US accuse Syria of sheltering fugitive ex-Ba'athists. Premier Iyad Allawi accused Syria of sheltering wanted men, loyalists of Saddam Hussein who are suspected of planning terrorist attacks in Iraq. Syria provides refuge to Hassib al-Rifaï, an ex-intelligence officer, as well as a certain Iyad Akache and (Hassan) Sabaawi, ex-intelligence chief under Saddam Hussein, said Mr. Allawi in an interview with al-Arabiya TV of Dubai. We have asked our Syrian brothers to turn over these wanted men because they are preparing to carry out acts of terrorism in Iraq., he added. General George Casey later repeated the claims and added that ex-Iraqi officials such as Ezzat Ibrahim al-Douri, Hussein's number two man, direct and finance the insurrection in Iraq from Syria with impunity. Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Chaalane accused both Iran and Syria of fomenting violence in Iraq. Terrorists are financed and trained in Syria. Syria has strenuously denied the accusations, saying that the statements on the part of the USA and Iraq are completel baseless.

Amman. Saddam Hussein in good health, says lawyer. A lawyer for Saddam Hussein met with his client and reports that he is in good health, says the legal team defending the Iraq ex-President in a communiqué released in Amman. "One of the defense team's lawyers met with Saddam Hussein today in his prison cell., reads the communiqué, signed by spokesman Ziad al-Khassawanat. The International Committee of the Red Cross had refused to meet with the legal team, following accusations levelled by the team against the organization. At the end of November, the Red Cross had been accused of being a "tool" of the Americans. Meanwhile, Iraqi Justice Minister Malek Dohane al-Hassan has confirmed that the trial of Saddam Hussein would take place long after the elections scheduled for January 30.

Beit-Méry, Lebanon. Italian slain in Iraq was living in Lebanon. Salvatore Santoro, kidnapped and slain by the Islamic Movement of Iraqi Mujahedeen, had been living for several months in Beit-Méry, in a Christian town in the mountains east of Beirut. He was a mysterious person. He'd be around, then he'd disappear. He dressed like a hippy but he drove a metallic green Porche with Spanish plates. That's why we thought he was Spanish., " said one of his neighbors. He didn't work, he spent every morning at home. With his long hair and salt-and-pepper beard, he was very kind; he used to hand out chocolates to the children and he spoke excellent English., said another. Salvatore Santoro was at ease with everyone, spent hours at a café in the middle of that vacation town, and seemed like a man concerned with justice. He spoke about the end of the world with my father. He said he wanted to do justice unto the world and to eliminate poverty., said another neighbor. The landlord of his apartment, which he had rented for six months, said he tried to talk Santoro out of going to Iraq. I'm going on a mission to Iraq, Santoro insisted. The townspeople recognized his face in the video broadcast by Al Jazeera. According to the network, the Islamic Movement of Iraqi Mujahedeen killed Santoro after learning that he supported the Americans.

Koizumi's popularity declines. The popularity of Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's government has reached its lowest point since Koizumi took office in April 2001 because of the hostility of the Japanese public towards the decision to extend the deployment of Japan's military contingent in Iraq. According to a survey taken by the Jiji Press Agency, the government's approval rating fell to 36%. More than 90% of those surveyed said they were dissatisfied with Mr. Koizumi's justification to extend the deployment.

US trainers disappointed. A unnamed American instructor of Iraqi troops says trainers are disappointed by the shortcomings of their students. According to the source, the Iraqi National Guard are undisciplined, unconcerned about human rights violations, have difficulty using limited force and are likely to launch coup d'etat in the future.

Jordanian terrorist al Zarqawi and his network have been weakend by US military action but has not been "emasculated", says a US military official. General Lance Smith says al Zaraqawi's main lieutenants are no longer "operational." However it is recognized that Zarqawi is still able to get around the country, including Baghdad, and communicates with his lieutanents concerning suicide attacks. Meanwhile combat continues in Fallujah and prevents refugees from returning to their homes. Reconstruction is delayed.

19:44 Baghdad. US State Department says 13.9 million will vote. 13.9 million voters have registered to vote in the January 30 elections, says the US Department of State.

18:52 Baghdad. Al Khalissi: Foreign debt incurred by Saddam Hussein should be cancelled. Ayatollah Mahdi Al Khalissi, leader of the National Iraqi Foundation Congress, says foreign debt incurred under Saddam Hussein must be cancelled and not reduced. Al Khalissi insisted that at cancellation of 90% of the debt was not acceptable, because it would legitimize the contracts made by Saddam Hussein's dictatorial regime.

17:11 London. Companion of Santoro says he converted to Islam. The companion of Salvatore Santoro, Madeleine Gerard, told journalists that Santoro had converted to Islam two years ago. He began reading the Koran, encouraged by a Lebanese woman with whom he was infatuated. He left London on Christmas 2000. Gerard says he became a religious fanatic and believed that God ordered him to care for Iraqi children.

17:08 Rome. Italian NGO association president confirms that Santoro was not an aid worker.

16:32 Latifiya, two Iraqi National Guardsmen killed. Rebels ambushed a National Guard vehicle, killing two and wounding three. The vehicle was on the Latifiya-Mahmudiya highway, south of Baghdad. The rebel commando escaped.

16:08 London. Executed Italian hostage, brother and companion talk to the press. Ciro Santoro says his brother, Salvatore, has resided in Spain for years and is very wealthy. Magdalene Gerard says she was Santoro's companion for 16 years.

15:40 Sueira. Ambush south of Baghdad, three policemen killed. Rebels opened fire on a police vehicle on the Baghdad-Basrah highway in Sueira, 50 km south of Baghdad. Three Basrah policemen were killed.

14:28 Karbala. Bomb kills 10. At least 10 are dead in a bombing in Karbala. The bomb went off in front of the offices of a consellor to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani at the tomb of Imam Ali. Eight civilians and two mosque guards were killed.

12:40 Baghdad. Kidnapped Italian photographed by Iraqi reporter. An Iraqi reporter took several pictures of Salvatore Santoro, as well as his passport, credit card and Lebanese residency permit.

12:00 Baghdad. Blast rocks downtown area. A column of smoke was seen rising from the site of an explosion in Baghdad. No reports of damage or casualties.

11:16 Baghdad. Iraqi tribunal prepares for trial of Saddam Hussein's lieutenants. An Iraqi special tribunal says that pre-trial hearings in the presence of international observers are underway for Saddam Hussein's lieutenants. Saddam is said to appear in court next week.

11:11 Baghdad. Message from Bin Laden. Tape of message from Bin Laden praises attack on US Consulate in Jeddah.

11:00 Baghdad. Santoro said to be kidnapped and slain at checkpoint on the highway between Baghdad and Ramadi.

10:23 Baghdad. Visa for Iraq delivered to slain Italian in Beirut. According to sources in Lebanon, Santoro arrived in that country after transiting Syria.

08:18 Baghdad. Telecommunications chief assassinated. A group of armed men has assassinated the director of the Iraqi State Postal and Telecommunications authority, Qassem Mihaoui, as well as his bodyguard.

08:04 Baghdad. Arab daily shuts down. The Arabic tabloid "Asharq al-Awsat" has closed down due to threats to its staff from unidentified individuals claiming to be Islamic resistance fighters. However the paper will continue to be published. According to Houda Jassem, the closing was decided after one of its reporters was kidnapped in front of his home and warned that the editorial offices would be blown up unless it retracted a story that Omar Hadid, a rebel leader, was related to Hamed Hadid, the al Jazeera Bureau Chief. Asharq al-Awsat, a Saudi-owned newspaper, had printed a story saying that intelligence sources had confirmed that al Jazeera Baghdad Bureau Chief Hamed Hadid was the brother of rebel leader Omar Hadid.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

December 15 Events in Iraq

Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan slams Sistani's united slate. Shaalan says the united Shi'ite Sistani/SCIRI slate is "Iran's list of candidates" and will bring an Islamic dictatorship to Iraq if victorious at the polls. Shaalan also accuses Shit'ite candidate Hassan al-Shahristani of being a spy for Teheran.

Iraqi Justice Ministry learns of impending trial of Saddam's henchmen through the TV. Pacho Ibrahim Ali, a high-ranking Iraqi Justice Ministry official, says his ministry learned of decision to accelerate schedule for trials from the television.

Baghdad remobilizes Saddam Hussein's army. The caretaker government has invited former military personnel serving under Saddam Hussein to join the security forces. General Tawfik al-Yassiri explains that they will be put to work as truck drivers to deliver fuel and supplies.

00:28 Fini: Santoro executed. Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini says Santoro has been executed.

00:13 Salvatore Santoro did stint in prison in the UK on drug-related charges. Santoro was released in 1984.

00:07 Amman. Italian Embassy in Amman issued an Italian passport to Salvatore Santoro on December 6.

23:13 Hostage Santoro's family moved to Britain in 1961. Salvatore Santoro was born in Naples in 1952, but moved to West Bromwich, England, with his family in 1961

22:51 Charity denies Italian worked for them. The British "Charity for England and Wales", says it is unable to confirm that Santoro worked for the organization.

22:19 Washington. Berlusconi phones Italy.

21:59 Rome. Kidnapped Italian, government crisis unit intervenes.

21:53 Rome. Kidnapped Italian. Italian foreign minister Gianfranco Fini heads for office in middle of night.

21:51 Kidnappers of Italian post message to web. A previously unknown group has claimed credit for kidnapping of Italian.

21:27 Ramadi. Salvatore Santoro, 52, kidnapped in Iraq. A 52 year-old Italian working for the British NGO "Charity for England and Wales" is kidnapped near Ramadi.

17:49 Latifiyah. Bodies of three men and three women found in "triangle of death." The bodies of three men and three women found were found in Latifiyah, 40 km south of Baghdad. The victims were shot through the head and were not locals. They women are said to have had their throats slit.

17:35 Karbala, Sistani collaborator wounded. The explosion of a bomb near the tomb of Imam Hussein in the holy Shi'ite city of Kerbala killed eight persons and gravely wounded Sheik Abdel Mehdi Karbala'i, representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Karbala'i is in intensive care for injuries to his legs.

17:20 Karbala, eight dead and thirty-two wounded. Police in Karbala confirm death of 8 persons and the wounding of 32 following the detonation of a bomb.

16:32 Baquba, bomb kills three. Three Iraqi civilians were killed by a homemade bomb along the roadside near Baquba, north of Baghdad.

16:02 Kerbala, 7 dead and dozens wounded in bombing.

14:33 Bagdad, girl and two Turkish truck drivers killed. An Iraqi girl and two Turkish truck drivers were killed over the last 24 hours in Baghdad. The truck drivers were ambushed on the road between Mossul and Balad. The trucks had been set on fire and their drivers burned to death. Meanwhile, a 5 year-old girl was killed in Samarra. The child, Mayssun Amer Mohammad, was struck in the head and the chest by bullets.

12:09 Karbala. Polish helicopter downed, three-man crew killed.

12:08 Baghdad. Electoral campaign begins. The first day of campaigning will begin tomorrow and will last six weeks, says Abed Hussein al-Hindawi, Chairman of the Elections Commission. 275 representatives to a constitutional assembly will be elected. More than 70 political parties are participating.

10:39 Kerbala, tax collector assassinated. The tax collector for the Province of Kerbala was assassinated this morning around 6:00 am local time in front of his home in Husseiniya, seven kilometers from Kerbala. The assassins got away.

10:23 Baghdad. Shalaan accuses Iran of terrorism. Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan accused Iran of orchestrating terrorist attacks in Iraq, affirming that Iran is "the most dangerous enemy of Iraq and of all Arabs. The source of all terrorism in Iraq is Iran."

10:22 US soldier succumbs to wounds. After agonizing for 24 hours, a US solder wounded in an attack on his convoy yesterday south of Baghad expired. The soldier belonged to teh "COSCOM" unit and was killed as the convoy was travelling to the Kalsu military base.

10:19 Baghdad. Interior Ministry official kidnapped. General Fadel Sakrane, a high-ranking Interior Ministry official, was kidnapped by armed men wearing Iraqi National Guard uniforms. Sakrane was kidnapped outside his home in Taji, 15 km from Baghad, and taken to an unknown location.

09:37 New documents reveal prisoner abuse. Navy documents reveal that Iraqi prisoners were tortured with electric current. A military magistrate issued has issued punishment sentences of up to 15 months for the servicemen concerned.

09:34 Marine is killed in al-Anbar province. A marine of the First Expeditionary Corps was killed during a "security and stability operation" in al-Anbar Province.

09:32 "Chemical Ali" to be tried first. Alì Hassan Al Majid, known as "Chemical Ali" will be the first of Saddam's henchmen to be tried, says Iraqi Defense Minister Hazim al-Shalaan. The trial could start next week.

09:31 Attack south of Bagdad, 4 dead, 13 missing. Four police were killed and 13 others are missing after their convoy was attacked by guerrillas south of Baghdad. Another 20 police were wounded.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

December 14 Events in Iraq

A convoy in which the Deputy Minister of State for the Interior, Hussein Ali Kamal, was travelling was targeted by a bomb. The device killed one member of his escort.

In Mossul, one member of the Nineveh Provincial Council, Sinan Salem Sello, was assassinated while another, Mrs. Nahla Aziz al-Issa, a veterinarian, was kidnapped.

General Myers admits that there are still pockets of resistance in Falluja.

Return of residents to Fallujah. The return of residents to Fallujah has been postponed one week to 22 December after Sunday's violent clashes in the northeast of the city killed five Marines and wounded 17 others. One out of three homes is beyond repair and all homes have been seriously damaged by street fighting. Most residents will not be able to return due to the state of their homes.

Islamic Party registers a slate of candidates for the elections. A slate of candidates representing the Iraqi Islamic Party, a major Sunni block which had threatened to boycott the elections, has been registered with the elections commission.

British Royal Navy captain relieved of duty. A captain of the Royal Navy returning home from Iraq was relieved of duty due to mistreatment of a junior officer. Frigate Captain David Axon of the vessel Somerset was removed to prevent a mutiny by the crew. Axon, a specialist of anti-aircraft defense, had taken command of the vessel in September 2003. The frigate spent more than six months patrolling the northern Gulf to defend Iraqi offshore oil installations. The removal was made after a complaint was lodged against the captain by junior officers for brutality and intimidation.

19:40 Hafria. Guerrillas kill two policemen. An machinegun attack by guerrillas on a police convoy in Hafria, south of Baghdad, killed 2 policemen and wounded 2 others.

19:35 Salman Pak. Attack east of Baghdad, four police killed. At least four police are dead and several others wounded when insurgents attacked a police convoy near the city of Salman Pak. Insurgents destroyed a bus and two cars with Basrah plates. The casualty toll is expected to rise.

18:40 Washington. Military requests an additional $80 billion. The Pentagon requests an additional $80 billion for the "War on Terror" in Iraq and Afghanistan. The request is $75 billion more than that discussed during the US presidential election campaign.

17:58 Baghdad. Allawi: Violence to increase after elections. Premier Iyad Allawi tells the provisional national assembly that violence in Iraq will increase after the elections. Terrorist attacks will not cease after the elections., warns Allawi. After announcing that daily insurgent attacks have decreased from 80 per day to 50 per day, the Premier then blamed Syria for allowing guerrillas to cross the frontier into Iraq.

17:51 Fallujah. Allawi: Relative of Saddam captured. Ezzedin al-Majid al-Tikriti, a cousin of Saddam Hussein captured in Fallujah, will face trial next week, says Premier Iyad Allawi, who claims al-Tikriti was a rebel combattant in Fallujah.

17:32 Baghdad. Elections, 60 million ballots needed. The final number of candidates running in the upcoming elections is unknown, but the Iraqi Elections Commission has requested the printing of 60 million ballots. Votesr may select either a party list or individual candidates.

16:55 Warsaw. Poland to withdraw one-third of its troops in February. Poland will pull out one-third of its troops in mid-February, reducing the size of its contingent from 2,500 to 1,700, says Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski.

16:12 Iraqi insurgents produce English-language video. For the first time, Iraqi insurgents have produced an English-language video for the Internet. We did not cross oceans and seas to conquer Great Britain or the United States and we are not responsible for 9-11. What you hear are lies which those criminals have invented to obscure their real aims--to control the world's supply of energy and to keep emerging China and the powerful European Union down. The video was made by a group calling itself the Jihad Islamic Army.

15:33 Common grave, estimate rises to 900. The common grave discovered in Kurdistan could hold 900 dead.

15:23 Fallujah. Saddam collaborator found. Izzi-Din Mohammed Hassan al Majid, a collaborator and cousin of Saddam Hussein, was arrested in Fallujah.

15:18 Baghdad. Al-Sadr places conditions on participation in elections. Rebel Shi'a imam Moqtada Al-Sadr has announced the conditions for the participation of his followers in the elections. In an communique broadcast by al Jazeera, Al-Sadr says that without a promise from the Americans for withdrawal of their troops immediately following the elections, participation is impossible. Despite al Sadr's public stand, a number of members of his movement are registered as independent candidates on the Shi'ite slate, says Lebanese newspaper 'Al-Mustaqbal' .

14:35 Geneva. Saddam held in US base near airport. Saddam's whereabouts are no longer a secret; the Iraqi ex-President is held in Camp Cropper, a US base near Baghdad Airport. The revelation was made by the Iraqi Minister for Human Rights, Bakhtiar Amin, who had been pressured by the International Red Cross to divulge the location.

14:12 Mossul, 14 corpses found. The bodies of fourteen Iraqi youths, executed by gunshot, were found in a cemetery near Mossul. Their identities remain unknown. The execution took place approximately 15 hours ago in the area of Wadi Ekab, north of the city, where more than 60 bodies have been found since the beginning of December.

13:42 Common grave with 500 corpses uncovered. Investigators have found a common grave which may contain 500 bodies, says Premier Iyad Allawi. The site is near Sulaimaniya, in Iraqi Kurdistan.

13:41 Allawi: Zarqawi collaborator killed. One of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi closest collaborators was killed by Iraqi security forces, says Premier Iyad Allawi. Hassan Ibrahim Farhan was killed and two al Qaeda terrorists arrested, says Allawi, without indicating the date or location.

13:32 Saddam's henchmen to be tried. The trial of Saddam Hussein's closest collaborators will begin next week, says Premier Iyad Allawi.

11:55 Four Kuwaitis kidnapped. Four Kuwaiti citizens were kidnapped by an armed militia at the border, says Iranian TV Al-Alam. The four had been on a hunting outing when they were captured.

11:26 Fallujah, $500 indemnity to returning residents. Each family returning to Fallujah will receive an indemnity, say the US military. Each family will receive a $500 consolation payment; it is to say that were are sorry for what has happened to the city, says Marine Capt. Paul Batty.

11:22 Elections, 79 lists are filed. Iraqi Election Committee says there are 70 party slates and 9 coaltion slates which have been filed for the upcoming elections.

11:18 UK: High court to investigate slaying of an Iraqi civilian. The London High Court will lead an independent investigation into the slaying of an Iraqi civilian by British troops. Five requests from other Iraqi families were rejected. The decision was pronounced in favor of the family of Baha Moussa, 26, who worked as a receptionist in Basrah and was arrested September 14, 2003 by British troops. His body, which was returned to the family several days later, was severely bruised without explanation. The judges of the High Court found that jurisdiction of the British state is territorial and could be extended to "outposts of authority of the State in foreign lands." Tony Blair's government was embarrassed by the decision and will seek an appeal in the House of Lords.

11:04 Kirkuk. Pipeline sabotaged. Rebels set a portion of an oil pipeline ablaze 70 km southwest of Kirkuk.

10:41 Mosul, eight bodies discovered. The bodies of eight young men were discovered in a Mossul cemetery. All were shot in the head. All were in civilian clothes; none have been identified.

10:11 Baghdad, two police officials assassinated. Two high-ranking police officials were killed by gunshot. The assassinations took place in the Ur district, at 8:15 this morning. The dead are Colonels Khayoum and Ali Hassan, of the Criminal Investigations Department. A third official, Capt. Imad Jassem, was wounded in the attack.

09:44 General Myers arrives with celebrity stars and champions. Gen. Richard Myers, in a suprise visit to Iraq, has arrived in Baghdad accompanied by celebrities of the stage and the sports arena, including comedian Robin Williams, football player John Elway and supermodel Leeann Tweeden.

07:31 Baghdad, one dead and twelve wounded. An Iraqi National Guardsman was killed and 12 others wounded in a suicide car bombing near the Green Zone.

07:29 Baghdad. Suicide carbomb. A suicide carbomb exploded at an entrance to the Green Zone, where Iraqi employees enter. The car exploded as it was being searched.

07:19 Blast in Baghdad. Carbomb kills one near the site of yesterday's car bombing which killed seven Iraqis.

07:16 Bagdad, blast near Green Zone.

Monday, December 13, 2004

December 13 Events in Iraq

Baghdad and Washington have called upon the United Nations to increase their presence in Iraq to assist in the preparation of the country for elections.

Baghdad. Iraqi Deputy Minister for Defense, Ziyad Catan, has announced the signature of a $131 million contract with the Polish firm Bumar for the delivery of military equipment.

Baghdad. The reconstruction of Iraq has progressed at an "astounding" rate, says USAid Director Andrew Natsios. "The reconstruction of Europe after WWII took six years, and it took us [in Irak] only a year and a half." Natsios also mentioned, "The building of a civil society, non-governmental organizations (...), universities, the values necessary for a democratic government, media, and ja udicial infrastructure to encourage investment."

London. President Ghazi al-Yawar says the US and Britain erred in dissolving the Iraq military in an interview with the BBC on Sunday.

Bogota. Colombian mercenaries recruited for Iraq. A first group of 25 retired officers from the Colombian military and police were recruited at the beginning of December by an American company specializing in oilfield security, says the Bolivian newspaper, El Tiempo.

Ankara. Turkey's Gül observes "misunderstandings" in relationship with Washington. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül admitted that certain misunderstandings arose recently in Turkey's relations with the US, most notably regarding US policy in Iraq which has been critized by Ankara. Mr. Gül aslo added that the European Union's aspirations for Turkey most concerned his government, and that the relations with the United States had taken second place which might have irritated Washington. The minister's comments followed a meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party during which US troops were accused of genocide in Iraq.

Damascus. Syrian President Bachir el-Assad and the leader of one of Iraq's largest Shi'ite political parties, Abdelaziz al-Hakim, met in Damascus to discuss security and the upcoming elections. 500,000 Iraqis living in Syria will vote in the elections on 30 January.

14:41 Rome. Iraqi Foreign Minister denies Saddam on hunger strike. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, in Rome for an audience with the Pope, discussed several issues with Vatican Secretary of State Angelo Sodano. Zebari denied that Saddam Hussein had started a hunger strike and promised that Saddam and Tareq Aziz would get a "fair trial according to justice, which Saddam had denied for so long to thousands of Iraqis." According to Zebari, they trial would take place as soon as possible after the elections.

18:17 Two US soldiers killed in Balad. Two US troops were killed and two others wounded in an attack on their convoy outside Balad. Meanwhile, three US soldiers and an Iraq civilian were wounded in an explosion in north Baghdad.

16:41 Tikrit, truck driver killed. An Iraqi truck driver was killed by unknown gunmen when the convoy in which he was travelling, escorted by the Iraqi National Guard, was ambushed on the highway between Mossul and Tikrit near the city of Baiji. The escort was powerless to prevent the attack.

14:19 Rome. Iraqi Foreign Minister makes papal visit. The Iraqi crisis, the responsibility of the government to defend the Iraqi Christian community and violence will be the topics of a meeting between Pope John-Paul II and Hoshyar Zebari, Iraqi Foreign Minister.

13:54 Baghdad. Ex-Saddam era ministers suspend hunger strike. Eight ex-minister's in Saddam Hussein's government suspended their hunger strike after refusing to eat breakfast. Col. Barry Johnson says all prisoner have started eating again. The Iraqi lawyer for ex-Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan confirms that all 11 members of the former régime had gone on the strike to protest poor treatment, confinement, forbidden access to newspapers and radio and the inability to receive visits from family.

13:23 Baquba, 21 dead in road accident. Twenty-one people including two women and an infant, were killed in a road accident in eastern Iraq. The collision was between a bus and a minivan. The minibus contained several containers of fuel as it was heading to Imam Weis, just inside the Iranian border. Iraqi travellers normally transport extra fuel with them because of the high price of gasoline and the long lines to refuel.

13:20 Baghdad. Group linked to al Zarqawi claims credit for Baghdad bombing. A group linked to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed credit for this morning's suicide bombing near the Green Zone this morning which killed 13 people.

12:59 Baghdad. Eight ex-Saddam ministers refuse food. US Col. Barry Johnson says eight ex-Saddam era ministers are refusing solid foods.

12:12 Baghdad. Sabotage responsible for yesterday's nationwide blackout. The fire which broke out yesteday in the Baija power generating station, plunging all of Iraq into darkness, was caused by sabotage, says Electricity Minister Ayham Al-Samarrai.

11:51 Baghdad. Artillery rounds fired in downtown Baghdad. Two artillery rounds landed in the Green Zone and a third in the parking lot of a hotel.

11:25 Baghdad. Saddam refusing food; Red Cross intervention requested. A lawyer for Saddam Hussein, Emmanuel Ludot, requested the intervention of the Red Cross following the report that Saddam had embarked on a hunger strike.

10:56 Baghdad. Death toll rises to 13 in Baghdad carbombing. The bombing of a checkpoint in front of a small Iraqi National Guard base killed 13.

10:04 Iskandariya. Iraqi National Guardsman killed in attack on checkpoint. An Iraqi National Guardsman was killed in Iskandariya, south of Baghdad and two others wounded in an attack on a checkpoint.

09:51 Kirkuk. Iraqi interpreter working for US military assassinated in Kirkuk. Interpreter for the US military was shot to death today in Kirkuk.

09:24 Fallujah. US airstrikes on Fallujah. US warplanes bombed the Askari district in eastern Fallujah. Meanwhile, no date has been set to permit the return of Fallujah's 300,000 resident.

08:24 Baghdad. Seven dead in Baghdad carbombing. Today's bombing of a checkpoint in downtown Baghdad killed seven civilians and wounded another 19. 90% of the wounded are in serious condition.

07:59 Baghdad. Ten wounded in carbombing. Ten people are wounded in a carbombing of a downtown Baghdad checkpoint at the entrance to a small Iraqi National Guard base.

07:40 Baghdad. Carbombing near Green Zone.

07:37 Seven US troops killed in al Anbar Province. Seven marines were killed in separate incidents in al Anbar Province. No details available.